Beam emission spectroscopy BES of the energetic deuterium D 0 heating beams can provide a means of characterizing the density turbulence in tokamak plasmas. First such measurements have been performed on the MAST spherical tokamak using a trial BES system, which shares the collection optics of the charge-exchange recombination spectroscopy system. This system, with eight spatial channels covering the outer part of the plasma cross section, uses avalanche photodiode detectors with custom preamplifiers to provide measurements at 1 MHz bandwidth with a spatial resolution of 4 cm. Simulations of the measurement, including the beam absorption and excitation, line-of-sight integration of the emission spectrum, and the characteristics of the detection system have been benchmarked against the measured absolute intensity of the Doppler shifted D fluorescence from the 50 keV beam. This gives confidence in predictions of the performance of a two-dimensional imaging BES system planned for MAST. Correlation techniques have also provided information on the characteristics of the density turbulence at the periphery of L -mode plasmas as well as density perturbations due to coherent magnetohydrodynamic activity at the edge of H -mode plasmas. Precursor oscillations of the density in the pedestal region to edge-localized modes occurring during H -mode plasmas with a single-null diverted magnetic configuration are also observable in the raw signals from the trial BES system.